Wednesday, July 18, 2012

4Knots Fest - July 14, 2012

The outdoor music festival has taken New York City by storm.  No sooner has one completed a multiday marathon just the weekend prior (and produced specific point-of-view coverage of those shows) that another weekend event comes right on it's heals.

The Village Voice held it's second annual 4Knots Music Fest at South Street Seaport in nautical lower Manhattan on Saturday, July 14, 2012. 

Featured performers included San Diego, California goth rockers Crocodiles - who's frontman Brandon Welchez does a pretty good Jim Reid visual.

More about them further down, however the day was long and the action started in the much earlier afternoon.

Checking in a the Press Table and securing one of these was essential for making it back into the photo areas, as each band changed over.

The first band on the Main Stage was a San Francisco based act Nick Waterhouse

Nick and his band play a jazzy style that incorporates elements of  soul and R&B as well.


Though Nick took the lion's share of lead vocal duties, he did lean heavily on a backup vocalist who brought a lot of style and energy to his overall musical presentation.

Another quality touch was the double saxaphone section, creating sonics not heard from any of following performers on this day.

Some of Nick's sounds can be sampled here:

The early part of this festival had a second stage going as well, staggering the start times so you could effectively move between both stages without missing much, if anything at all.

Heading over to the smaller Skippers Stage - we were just in time to catch Devin

This performer and band put on an extremely high energy show that was as much fun to watch as it was to listen to.

There are touches of the Elvis sneer - the ramshackle qualities of a band like The Replacements in the group dynamic - and even a bit of Billy Corgan in the singers vocals.

Devin rocked and kicked ass all in one.  Recommended!

Shuffling along with the herd over to the main stage again, it was time for the much hyped (in my world, anyway) Bleached

Cute girls, no doubt about it.

Appear to be filled with confidence and all the right rock attitude as well.

I believe my fellow credentialed photo-pit associate thought the bass player warranted taking more than a few snapshots of.

I coulnd't really disagree with him.

And yeah - it's a lot about those shoes
Youthful enthusiasm!
There's nothing like a nautical backdrop for your promo photo.

As for the music they make - well, I realize that everything's been done before - but this REALLY has been done before - and much better - by others.
It's pretty much The Vivian Girls - with less on-key vocals.  That's not to say they weren't fun - or didn't have segments of the crowd dancing and whipping their riot-grrrl hair around in a carefree way. 
Even this fellow:

Whom we (in the photo pit) dubbed "riot boy" - was having a hair flipping time of his life!

I give them props for showmanship - and doing all it takes to keep a festival crowd active - I just don't see anything unique or outstanding here.

Having written a preview about the next band to appear on the "Skippers Stage" - it was imperative to catch the set from Brooklyn's own Team Spirit
More compact surroundings made for better side-shot photo angles.
This band's recorded works did impress - and so did their live show.

Enjoying the show in progress, but in dire need of some refreshments, we headed up to the Peking VIP ship for a quick beverage break and to check out more from a different perspective.
Nice crowd.
Check out what they sounded like on this day:
Down the gang plank we trudged once more - this time to catch the set on the Main Stage by  Hospitality

This Brooklyn band is fronted by a female vocalist/guitarist named Amber Papini and played a minimalist indie pop style with jazzy inflections.

One left handed guitar (here the bassist) always creates a symmetrical look on stage.

Amber's vocals are intimate and up close in your ear.

Hospitality’s compositions focus as much on the spaces between the notes, as the notes themselves.

The music is pop, but structurally more complex than the more basic variety. 

Listen in on one of their performances here:


Heading back up onto the Peking VIP ship to catch the final 2nd Stage performer (Delicate Steve) we witnessed the most dramatic event of the day.

As Steve and his band were getting ready to play, a fire broke out on Pier 17, directly across from where we were located.

Apparently it started as an electrical fire from underneath the dock.

The New York Fire Department response was swift and boats with powerful water cannons put the blaze out.

The fire was no match for the Super Cannon!

Video of the moment, captured:


Meanwhile, Delicate Steve ripped into a spirited set of music.

It seemed like Steve's playing was particularly hot and smokin' on this afternoon.

As witnesses here:
Even as the fire department swarmed the adjacent dock, putting out the last remnants of the fire.

Finally it was time to catch the highlight show of the afternoon on the Main Stage
San Diego's Crocodiles

Despite having to endure a lengthy wait while the Fire Department gave the "ok" for music to be played again, the band was in fine form and delivered a blistering set.
Frontman Brandon Welchez commands the stage with a strong presence.  Once could make the case that at times his appearance strikes a resemblance with Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes.
The the other core founding member - guitarist Charles Rowell stands out with a dominant guitar imagery, not unlike William Reid of the legendary Jesus & Mary Chain.
Drums and bass are essential for any live show worth it's weight.
Having a keyboardist gives Crocodiles a richer sound as well.
Quality rock from a band that knows just what it should sound like.
The Seaport creates a natural backdrop that creates instantly attractive photos

Roming around the audience catch the pulse of the crowd (everyone was totally into it) one video capture of a particularly favorite song of theirs:

Even the photographers were having some crowd-surfing fun.
Having endured an already lengthy day of Festival activity, drid and I decided to head on up the the Pizza Uno restaurant (conveniently located right above the proceedings) to refresh somewhat on this sweltering hot afternoon.
Soon enough it was time for The Drums to perform.

Much has been written about this band - with opinions ranging to extremes in both the positive and the negative.

I've always found their live show to be incredibly amusing, and their recorded works to be both professional with more than a few really catchy songs.

For this particular show it seemed like frontman Jonathan Pierce played it a lot more "straight" than he has done in the past.

Which was somewhat disappointing as I'd grown accustomed to seeing him gyrate in twistedly spastic ways.  I was looking forward to more angular (and lets face it) awkward dancing.

Well there was a little bit of it - but not nearly as much as I remembered from previous shows.  Perhaps he's tired of hearing about all that so has tightened things up a bit.

Still, the very heavily 80's influenced tunes are there, and I think they actually do that sound rather well.

Here's one of their more recent tunes as evidence:

At this point, drid and I were in serious need of more substantial reinforcements, and headed out of the festival to Front street and a proper restaurant.

Making at least a cursory attempt to then attend some of the scheduled Afterparty, the chaos in front of Beekman Beergarden (alternate entrance due to the fire) made the decision to call it a day that much easier.